I'm too cool for resolutions…or not

For the 2nd year in a row, I have welcomed the New Year by being sick. Not how I intended things to go – either year – but little children and their stomach bugs seem destined to take me down occasionally. Not much to be done about it when #aunting is a routine part of life.

Last year, the illness came on hard, knocked me on my ass, and kept me down for almost two months. A body that was worn out, hurting, unhealthy and a soul trending toward gloomy didn’t help, either. It wasn’t until February that I bought some vitamins, took a deep mental breath, and set a goal. With a big summer Canadian adventure on the horizon, I vowed I would “get better by Banff” (what can I say, I like alliteration). Better health, better fitness, and most importantly, better state of mind. Not best. Not perfect. Just better. And I did.

This year, the fruits of that hard work meant that this bout of illness seems *mostly* over, and thought I felt a bit of my spring-in-the-step pep coming back today, I don’t quite trust my stomach 100% just yet. So it’s the perfect time to keep sitting on my couch and write a rambling post ushering 2019 out and thinking about 2020.

Yesterday, the US assassinated an Iranian foreign leader with drone strike. I feel it’s worth mentioning this just to put some of these ramblings into the “not-all-that-important” context where they truly belong, but since it’s been a long time since I studied powder kegs in world affairs, and I have no power over global geopolitics, I will just write about what I know.

It turns out that lying around feeling like crap is a good time to sort through some stuff. Like, for example, how I feel about the changes I’ve made to my eating and exercise habits recently. Or more specifically, how I feel about outsiders’ reactions to their results. You see, I have lost weight from these changes, enough that it’s noticeable. I’ve gotten more “you look greats!” on social media than I have in years, and my parents can’t stop remarking on the difference they see in me.

I’ve had some consternation about this, because I believe that praise for losing weight, while almost always well-intentioned, can create a cycle of negativity when the visible results stop or reverse, which, less face it, is statistically likely to happen to me at some point (statistics, and the fact that I still like my burgers and potato chips, dammit!). Because while losing weight is great, I am trying to make changes that, ultimately, make me FEEL better long-term, so that I am able to keep hiking and exercising and trying new nutrition tricks and generally working to undo decades of shame and failure when it comes to my body.

I also believe whole-heartedly that our society’s obsession with physical appearance is ridiculous and unhealthy and that there are a million other ways to acknowledge someone’s beauty and worth other than saying “wow – you look great because there is less of you than there was before.” At one point over the break, my mom was giving me “that look” as I came in, sweaty and gross, from a quick run, but she surprised me by saying “you look like an athlete!” Considering I was done up in all my gear, she wasn’t wrong, but then she said “you move like one too.” People, that little sentence sent joy singing into my heart, because how do athletes move? With confidence and strength…and you’re damn right, that’s 100% how I want to move. Thanks, Mom!

Anyway, the moral of all this musing is that I’m ok with the compliments, because I am trying to lose weight and it feels good to be celebrated for succeeding after many years of failing. But I still urge everyone to think of other ways to lift people up, because the odds are against pretty much everyone who is trying to lose weight. And, newsflash to fat shamers or those who “just want to be helpful” by pointing out when someone isn’t having success – feeling bad about yourself doesn’t help. Feeling GOOD, even though you’re still fat, even though you have a long way to go, is VITAL to the process, as I and anyone else who had any bit of success will tell you.

Another thing I pondered while alternating naps with Marvel movies was how I’m really not into New Year’s resolutions this year. Mine are usually about losing weight, and I’m already on that path, so as I scrolled through everyone’s 2019 recaps and 2020 vows, I admit to a bit of resolution snobbery. Everyone with their “one words” and “intentional living” and all that. But it turns out that I am not above the hype. Because, just in the last day or so, I’ve realized that I do intend to make a change in 2020.

As you all know, I have had some epic adventures in the last few years. From two-week journeys to Paris and France to slot canyons and the Canadian Rockies…good grief, I have been lucky and seen some amazing places. For the record, I have no intention of stopping these epic adventures.

However, I finally, while convalescing, diagnosed something that’s been niggling at me lately. I realized that I have put so much of my energy and attention onto the big adventures, the ones that take me to new places and up new mountains and whatnot, that I tend to give the others shorter shrift, when those other, smaller adventures hold the same potential to teach me things and bring me joy.

So, as I head into 2020, I guess that’s what I want to work on; being more present in the moments that are not an epic adventure. This means taking my camera on more family trips, and seeking weekend adventures with friends – just to be together – in all corners of the country, whether I’ve been there or not. And recognizing that I have to love the world I come home to, or all that fun is just a poor attempt to fill a gap in my life that can’t be filled, no matter how many mountains I climb.

So there you have it, folks. Now, this wouldn’t be a Jodi post if I didn’t share some pictures, so I have given just a few moments of thought to my favorite images of the last year, and jeez there are so many. But here are two of my favorites.

This one, I love because it’s just idyllic and captures one of many wonderful moments on a wonderful trip.
Purple alpine flowers in the foreground, with a brown-haired woman crouched behind them. Alpine mountains in the background.
This one, obviously not taken by me, is a fave because A) I was limber and healthy enough to be crouched down with my camera amid wildflowers in the Canadian Rockies, for heaven’s sake, and B) I had a friend there to take my picture. Thanks for the photo, Shawn Bagci.

Happy 2020 everyone. I wish you all health and joy in your own worlds this year. Much love to you.

Oh and PS: Sadie remains the best dog on the planet, and she wishes you Happy New Year, too. She wonders when you’re going to come by and bring treats.

Giving thanks: a quiet end to the #52hike challenge

I started this post the night before Thanksgiving, but it got too busy to finish it. Now it’s the day after Thanksgiving and the serenity of that moment is gone, but the sentiments remain.

Here on the this Thanksgiving eve, before the Turkey Trots and family visits…after the food prep is done and Sadie and I can enjoy our freshly vacuumed living room and pretty Christmas tree, I’m finding myself finally, at last, feeling what the Thanksgiving spirit should equal: GRATITUDE.

Do any of you remember the #52hikechallenge that I started back in 2018? If you don’t, I don’t blame you; I haven’t talked about it for a while. It never became the community/adventure journal that I wanted it to be. Moving to the flatness of the beach didn’t help, either. I finished it without fanfare because, well, it just didn’t really seem to matter to anyone other than me. If I’m honest, the construct of the challenge didn’t even really matter that much to me; it’s a given that I’ll get out and hike, challenges or not.

But I did keep a record of my last few hikes:

Hike 40: The Living Room, aka Jodi’s Utah meltdown
Hike 41: Donut Falls, a lovely little hike where I got to use my microspikes in the snow
Hike 42: Delicate Arch, take 3
Hike 43: Hickman Bridge hike, Canyonlands National Park
Hike 44: Cassidy Arch and the Grand Wash, also in Canyonlands
(Hikes 41-44 are chronicled here)
Hike 45: First Landing State Park Valor Run course
Hike: 46: Jordan Bridge, “training” hike
Hike 47: Valley of the Five Lakes, Jasper National Park
Hike 48: Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park
Hike 49: Edith Cavell Meadows Trail, Jasper National Park
Hike 50: Sulpher Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park
Hike 51: Bertha Falls and the US Border, Waterton Lakes National Park
Hike 52:  Ptarmigan Falls, Glacier National Park

Looking at this list, and remembering all the pictures and adventures in each of these hikes makes me shake my head at how lucky I am.

Hike 52 came midway through an epic two-week adventure in Canada that still feels a bit like a dream as in did I really do that and can we go back right this very second, please? Hike 52 was supposed to be a 17K trek in Waterton Lakes Park that’s one of the best in Canada, but rain sent us south into Montana and Glacier National Park instead. We did an easy, quiet, misty, lovely little hike to a pretty place called Ptarmigan Falls.

It was a quiet hike on a quiet day, and I didn’t even realize it was hike 52 until we were nearly done. I guess you could say the #52hike challenge went out with less than a bang. So why am I including it in this gratitude essay?

I think it’s because the 20 months that it took me to complete the challenge were a mixed bag, personally, and as I look back at the 52 hikes that were part of that mixed bag, they represent the things I love most about my life, and that I’m the most grateful for. Even when I was tired and unhealthy and gloomy and stressed, the hikes of the last two years were always there to remind me what mattered, and who matters:

Friends: The folks who often have more faith in me than I do in myself
Family: My steadfast fans, who let me drag them into my outdoor adventures, even if they’re skeptical
Sadie: My loyal pooch, who never strays too far from my orbit
Views: Vistas and horizons and rippling landscapes that fill up my soul as nothing else can
Nature: Those gorgeous places that need our protection even as we enjoy them
Health: A state of being where my body and I are working together to get better

That I am healthy enough, prosperous enough, and supported enough to do something like the 52 Hike Challenge is a blessing and a joy.  Since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I’d end by mentioning that my hikes over the past years have taken me all over the country, and everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve learned a bit about the people who lived on the land long before my ancestors arrived on the scene. Sacred, desert spaces in Utah, healing rivers and waterfalls in Canada, all the different tribes that lived in New England forests…there’s a lot of history folded into those places.

For my first Virginia Thanksgiving , it’s worth remembering hike 37 of the challenge, which took me onto the nearby land of the Nansemond Indian Tribe, whose descendants lived in Virginia before English settlers arrived. There’s a long and violent history of the settler-native relationship going back to the 1600s, but I am grateful that the members of the tribe we met back in March are still maintaining their land and doing their best to educate their fellow Virginians about their tribe and the history of the land we call home. And I’m so, so grateful that I am able to visit these spaces.

Mostly, I’m grateful to be healthy enough to enjoy this life that I’m living, and that my two feet have taken me to so many wonderful places, taught me so much about our country, and allowed me to share so many magical moments with the important people in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Do you document your victories?

Recently, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist.

Behind those words are a ton of baggage. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to lose weight, and asking for help has never really been my strong suit. Lately, I’ve found myself more willing to forgive myself for these so-called “failings,” and it’s an empowering place to be. I hope that some of you get to experience it. Maybe it’s being in my 40s, maybe it’s living at the beach, maybe it’s a new job…who knows why, but it feels good.

Anyway, I’ve been seeing this nutritionist, and it’s been great. There’s something very powerful about having someone whose sole job is to help you make good choices, who is totally focused on you, and your needs. It’s amazing, to be honest.

And it’s working.

As she and I chatted today, in between sharing recipes and laughing over my attempts to avoid fast food, she dropped this little query:

“You’re doing so well with this. Do you document your victories?”

I blinked a bit, and thought about it. I definitely use this blog to document moments in my life (publicly), so why not this? I guess the answer is that I’m not interested in sharing too much about how many pounds I’ve lost or what my sugar levels are. Frankly, those things are no one’s business but my own.

Also, I fully understand that the ability to see a nutritionist, have a health care plan that pays for it, and shop for anything but the cheapest foods is a privilege that a lot of people don’t have. So it feels a little icky to proclaim a “victory” when I have so many tools and people to help me.

Still, her question made me think about what victories I do, despite those reservations, want to document. So here are a recent few.

Getting to the top of the Lake Blanche trail

Lake Blanche, Utah. Elevation: Approximately 8,800 feet above sea level.

This hike was tough for me.
A) I eventually made it up, thank goodness
B) I didn’t cry en route (yeah!)
C) I only apologized once for my slowness.

Those were all victories, and the view was icing on the cake.

Climbing up Elephant Rock

At the end of a gentle, pleasant 3.5 mile hike outside of Salt Lake City, Elephant Rock sits.

When you get to it, Elephant Rock is below you, down a steep slope. When my friend started down and asked me to come along, I looked at the slope and I won’t lie, I got nervous. He scrambled down like the mountain goat he is, and I tiptoed my way down, inch by slippery inch. I arrived at the base of the rock feeling a little shaky. The top of the rock required a bit of scrambling, and at one point I mumbled “maybe I’ll just stay here and not climb up.” My friend would have none of that, so up I went, trembling the whole way. With a little help, I got up there, and could literally feel my ankles shaking in my shoes. When my friend said “doesn’t the view make it worth it?” I wasn’t quite sure I agreed. But once I got the adrenaline under control, it was pretty awesome being up there.

So I count that as a victory.

My last victory is not as easy to quantify. It involves my Christmas tree.

Just over a year ago, while on an epic trip to the Smoky Mountains area, we visited the Biltmore Estates. It was late October, and they were putting up Christmas decorations. I was a Scrooge about it, grumbling that I didn’t have the Christmas spirit “yet” that year.

If I’m honest, I never got that spirit last year. I was too tired, too stressed, too unhealthy. It was a struggle to put my tree up and summon enthusiasm for carols and cards and really… for anything other than cookies.

So I found myself pleasantly surprised this week when I dragged a box of decorations down and put up my living room tree. I had a plan – I pulled out only the silver and blue decorations, and proceeded to deck my fake tree with it’s “ocean” themed sparkle. It came out nicely, as you can see.

What’s not on that tree is as telling as what is. I have a marvelous collection of ornaments of great sentimental value, going all the way back to the 1990s. I love them. Each one has a story and and a memory of people or an event in my life that I treasure. They’ve made past trees a lovely mishmash of sparkle and nostalgia.

But this year, for some reason, I didn’t want them all on my living room tree. No, this year, I wanted to make my tree something pretty and sparkly and alive, one that doesn’t dwell much in the past, but is fixed firmly in the now.

In chatting with my nutritionist, I recently confessed that the holidays have always been a mixed bag for me; navigating them while single, and staying positive, takes some effort. And then there’s the food. So much food, most made and shared with love, but my goodness…it’s everywhere. I’ve always dreaded the food portion of the holidays as much as I love all the yumminess, as it was pretty much a guarantee that I’d undo any good I’d done for myself that year so far.

But I feel differently about this year. I hope I can convince my mom to bake cookies with me next weekend, and I have no guilt about that. I will also take she and my dad on a long walk in the nearby park. I plan to enjoy my turkey dinner…and to run a 10K that morning. Things are just different this year. I feel pretty sure that I won’t undo my good progress because I like the way my good progress has made me feel, and I don’t want to go back.

As I hung my pretty sparkly ornaments on my tree, taking all the time I needed to find that perfect place, I found myself thinking about the folks at the Biltmore who decorate dozens of trees each year; there are so many they have to start in October. I wished we could go back and revel in the decorations. I pondered the so-called Christmas Spirit. How it’s lovely when you have it and when you don’t, it can seem cloying and overwhelming.

I felt like I was channeling Dickens when I thought “Well, I will hold the Christmas spirit in my heart for everyone who can’t find it this year. Because some other year, I may need them to do that for me. “

That moment was a victory, and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for all of them, and all that they signal about what I hope is to come.

Solo snaps: A cold sunset, a year later

NOTE: I started this post nearly one year ago. I have not hit publish on it, because, frankly, I felt some embarrassment about some of the emotions and reactions I described. They seemed foolish upon reading, and it’s hard for me to seem foolish (even though it happens quite a lot!). But a lot has changed in a year, so I decided to give it another look. 

Oh wow, look at that tree…

Sometimes, my favorite photos are captured when I’m rushing, or being rushed.

This snap happened on day 4 of a multi-day adventure in Fall 2018. The trip spanned North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I was not solo on this day. I had a good friend to travel with.

He and I travel together 2-3 times a year if we’re lucky. We are often treated like a couple, even though we live three time zones apart; that’s just how America is programmed to see a man and a woman traveling together. I won’t lie; it’s nice for all the reasons that you’d imagine (sharing the long drives, and not hearing the hostess say “oh, just one today?” in a cheery but slightly patronizing voice). It also can make for some awkward moments, like just before I took this picture. But let’s back up a little.

Day 4 of this trip was the first day that we did any hiking worthy of the name. I’m talking about hiking that involves going uphill for any length of time. To make a long story short, the hike we did that day kicked my butt. After a tough and stressful year, I was out of shape, and I live at sea level, so it was pretty much a guarantee that I was going to suck wind on the first real uphill.

We’d hiked to Andrews Bald, a few relatively easy miles down to an incredible view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here’s a little taste of a photo shoot that had the other hikers laughing as I ran back and forth from the tripod, trying to balance on the rocks. Please note that Shawn has no problem whatsoever balancing on his rock while I’m falling all over the place. He’s annoying that way. 😉

But as we hiked out, the trail that was downhill on the way in became uphill on the way out (hate it when that happens) and there was a moment where I fought back tears of embarrassment as I realized just how out of shape I truly was. I got through it thanks in large part to the awesomeness of my friend who never makes me feel bad for going slow (I do plenty of that myself).

I tell you all of this to say that I was mentally and physically wobbly – in both good and bad ways – as we drove down the mountain and stopped at an overlook. There was that lovely post-hike high…and the nagging low brought on by self-flagellation and fear that surely my friend was tired of hiking with a slug like me. All these emotions were close to the surface as we pulled into the parking lot at the Newfound Gap overlook.

National Park parking lots tend to be amazing places, and this was no exception. The Appalachian Trail was mere feet away. Blue-tinged mountains echoed on the horizon in never-ending waves. The sun had just gone down, and the light was magic. It was also cold, with a mountain wind to sharpen it.

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We wandered a bit around the parking lot, snapping photos in comfortable silence. There was something resembling a tower, albeit a short one, at the far end of the lot. Though my weary legs protested, we climbed it. At the top I met the eyes of a round, merry-faced woman who was sitting up on a rock wall. She gave me a huge smile, and I noticed the bearded, red-cheeked man sitting next to her. They were side-by-side, bundled up like Santa and Mrs. Claus, atop a cozy-looking blanket, swinging their feet, and without thinking, I blurted out “Oh, you two are so adorable.” They laughed, and we chatted; they were there to watch the moonrise. I offered to take their picture, which they happily let me do. Then they, like most, jumped to conclusions, and said “would you two like a photo for your family album?”

For some reason, that innocent question immediately got to me. What I should have said was “Sure!” and enjoyed adding a nice picture of me and my friend to my collection. Instead, I got flustered and tried to explain that we weren’t a family and…yeah, pretty soon I beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

And then I saw this photo.

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It happened so fast. “Oh wow, look at that tree…” I was freezing, so I didn’t bother with trying to adjust settings. I just saw, pointed, click-click, and then clamored into the car, the hope that I’d caught something special chasing away all of my other thoughts.

I do wish I’d taken a bit more time, maybe taken a few more steps to my right to avoid that big mass of boring pine trees in the right 1/3 of the frame. But those are small quibbles, and did I mention it was freezing up there?

I love this photo, mostly because while I was taking it, all my insecurities disappeared. I was in exactly the right place at the right moment. Many months later, I want to chide myself for being too much in my head, for worrying to much about my solo status, but that’s not fair to what was happening on that day, in that moment. Yes, I know we’re supposed to fake it until we make it, but sometimes, our insecurities are real and they get the better of us. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or pathetic; it just means we’re human.  If we’re lucky, we have friends and amazing views to help shake us out of it…and photos like this to help us remember the moment.

And best of all, we have time and the option to put in the hard work needed to find, or rediscover, our confidence in ourselves. Those of you for whom that doesn’t come easily can understand why I’m proud of finally publishing this post, even though it makes me sound foolish. I love this photo because it’s gorgeous, but also for how it’s helped me realize how far I’ve come in the last year. Next time, I vow to let Mrs. Claus take that family photo. 😉

PS: Solo Snaps is a series I started to try to capture the stories behind my photos. My original thought was they’d offer some insights on my status as a solo gal (that’s code for therapy I don’t pay anyone for). But I have found over the past year that ruminating on being solo isn’t where I want to spend my time. My favorite photos weren’t shot when I was by myself, it turns out. And even if they were, forcing a “this is the meaning I must find when I’m alone” moment into every photo is trying too hard. So this might be my last “Solo Snaps” post. But it won’t be my last post about my pictures, no siree. You can’t escape that easily, dear readers.  

The Return to Delicate Arch, plus a visit Goblin Valley State Park (and other places)

Back in May of this year, I traveled for a brief weekend of hiking and exploring in Utah, where my friend Shawn lives. It’s odd that I haven’t written much about it yet. This week, while talking to my parents, who are out in that same area having an epic vacation, I suddenly felt the desire to write about that little trip.

It started with a bit of a meltdown on a short hike called The Living Room in Salt Lake City, but that’s a story I’ve already told. This post is about the next few days, which were full of great views, adventures and some (well, ok, a lot) of introspection.

The morning after the Living Room we drove up into Big Cottonwood Canyon, not too far outside of the city, to do a short and easy hike called Donut Falls. It’s apparently quite popular in all seasons based on it’s easiness, and I got a huge kick out of doing it in the snow (the first snow I’d seen, really, since leaving Boston). When we got to the falls, they were covered in snow and ice and we got to show off our microspikes, which earned us some admiring/envious looks from our fellow sneaker-clad adventurers. We climbed up to an opening in the ice where we could see a tiny portion of the falls, but really what was remarkable was that we were actually climbing on top of the falls.

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I am literally standing on the falls for this picture, looking back the way we came.

It was a lovely, sunny day, and the trek back down, wearing our spikes, zoomed by in a flash. 

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Next we drove out to Antelope Island State Park, which is on the Great Salt Lake. This was the first time I’d seen the Lake, and it didn’t disappoint in terms of views.

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It did disappoint, however, in its overwhelmingly annoying no-seeum infestation; we tried to walk down to see some wildlife but bailed because we were getting chewed up by those little bastard bugs.

So it was back to the city for us, where we had some tasty barbeque and did a rare thing, for us, anyway; we chose not to do another hike and instead watched a movie, drank beer and enjoyed some homemade cobbler. My flatlander legs appreciated the leisure time.

The next day, we headed south to Moab. I’m pretty sure this portion of the trip was accomplished under protest from Shawn’s point of view, but he had little choice as I was determined to visit Arches National Park (one of my favorite places on earth) and find redemption at the Delicate Arch.

See, on our first big adventure together back in 2016, we’d ended our trip at Arches, and after a long day of hiking, decided to try to get to the Delicate Arch at sunset. We started too late, and I was really tired, so I sent Shawn ahead and the long and short of it is that we got separated. I took the established route and he, well, lets just say he found his own way.  We both made it up, though we missed each other at the top, and while I managed to pick my way back down the trail in the pitch black (headlamp for the win), by the time I got back to the nearly empty parking lot –alone– my imagination had started conjuring bad scenarios, many of which involved me having to tell the rangers that I had no idea where in the Utah desert my friend was. The story ends happily, as he made it down soon after I did,  and didn’t seem fazed in the slightest.

So, I suspect he was doing a fair bit of eye-rolling as we climbed up the trail in the blazing midday sun, with me generously narrating my previous experience (this is where I saw you veer off to the right, and I wondered where you were going, etc), The trail seemed far less intimidating in the daylight, and it’s also worth noting that my level of confidence while hiking has grown since that evening in 2016.

Anyway, we got to enjoy the beauty of the Delicate Arch, together, without any drama this time, and that was all I wanted.

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A pasta lunch/dinner in Moab was next, and then we headed west into the nothingness to visit Goblin Valley State Park. We drove through some of the most remote country I’d ever seen, the kind that makes you want to check that you have gas in your tank.

Goblin Valley as the sun set felt like being on another planet. Indeed, sci-fi movies had been shot there in the past, and you can see why.

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We had hoped to camp at the State Park, but the campground was full. Somehow Shawn knew that there was a primitive campground on nearby BLM land, and we headed just a few miles from the park and pitched our tents in a canyon. We were not alone; there were other folks camping there, and an RV park about a mile away with a bathroom if we’d needed it, but it was still pretty isolated.

We laughed at how poorly we’d prepared for this part of the adventure; no firewood, no marshmallows, no beer, but we made the best of it, setting up our chairs and just sitting for hours as twilight turned to dusk, watching the millions of stars start to appear overhead. It got chilly enough that I wished for a blanket, but my towel made a nice substitute. Conversation, in a setting like that, takes on a certain sheen of whimsy and mystery. In the silences, I pondered why I seem to connect with this part of the country so much; it’s odd, considering that my ancestors came from another continent entirely. There were so many stars, flitting in and out of view as the occasional cloud glided by. It was a lovely night, my first camping in a remote place like that, and I hope it’s not the last.

The next morning, we ate rehydrated food for breakfast and set out for Capitol Reef National Park. It was a glorious day, but all the travel and the bug bites were taking their toll, and we were a little tired. I don’t have a lot of sharp memories of our first hike up to Hickman Bridge (but I do remember these pretty orange flowers):

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We drove through a green and glorious valley where Mormons had settled, en route to an 8 mile adventure hiking the Grand Wash (2 miles of flat in a canyon) and then up to Cassidy Arch and then back out again. The sun beat down on us for most of this hike, so we were pretty spent when it was over.

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This arch is named after Butch Cassidy, for some reason. It takes about 1000 feet of steep hiking to get to it.

As a sign that we’re either getting older or wiser (even odds, I’d say), we decided to pack it in and head back to Salt Lake City after a late lunch and about a gallon of water.

The next day I headed back to Virginia, but not before we decided to walk to get pizza, and ended up trekking a mile back in the pouring rain. Always an adventure, I guess. Next time, we’ll just get takeout.